IPDs and Appointment Mechanisms
The following represents the official list of Office of Intramural Research (OIR)-approved designations for use in an Institute or Center’s (IC) intramural program:
- Offical List of Approved Intramural Professional Designations (IPDs)
- Appointment Authorities & Mechanisms [Matrix]
A Senior Investigator is an NIH employee who has been granted tenure by the Deputy Director for Intramural Research (DDIR), after review and recommendation by the NIH Central Tenure Committee (CTC) or the Senior Biomedical Research Service (SBRS) Policy Board. Tenure at the NIH is the commitment by an Institute or Center (IC) of independent resources to an independent Senior Investigator, including salary, operating budget, personnel, and space. Senior Investigators are required to have regular outside, expert reviews by Boards of Scientific Counselors (BSC). Based on these and other reviews (assessing the productivity and quality of work), resources may be adjusted up or down by the IC.
An Investigator (1 and 2) is an NIH employee who is a tenure-track scientist selected by a Deputy Director for Intramural Research (DDIR) –approved national search. A tenure-track position represents a commitment by an Institute or Center (IC) of independent resources, including salary, operating budget, personnel, and space. Investigators are required to have regular outside, expert reviews by Boards of Scientific Counselors (BSC). Based on these and other reviews (assessing the productivity and quality of work), resources may be adjusted up or down by the IC.
A Senior Clinician is an NIH employee on either a permanent (Title 5 or Commissioned Corps) or indefinite appointment (Title 42(f) after Title 5 exhaustion has been certified) who has been selected via a Deputy Director for Intramural Research (DDIR) -approved national search. The individual is a manager of a large Institute or Center (IC) research or clinical program/department with responsibility for substantial resources (≥$2M budget including personnel and space). A Senior Clinician may be granted independent research resources, which are subject to review by the IC Board of Scientific Counselors (BSC).
A Senior Scientist is an NIH employee on either a permanent (Title 5 or Commissioned Corps) or indefinite appointment (Title 42(f) after Title 5 exhaustion has been certified) who has been selected via a Deputy Director for Intramural Research (DDIR) -approved national search. The individual is a manager of a large Institute or Center (IC) research program/department with responsibility for substantial resources (≥$2M budget including personnel and space). A Senior Scientist may be granted independent research resources, which are subject to review by the IC Board of Scientific Counselors (BSC).
An Assistant Clinical Investigator (ACI) (1 and 2) is an NIH employee on a time-limited appointment and selected through a selective merit-based national search. The position is intended for clinicians whose abilities and focus in research would make them candidates for an independent research career path. Thus, this position aims to provide clinical investigators with advanced mentoring, independent resources, and added time to expand their scientific talents, knowledge, and research as they prepare to be competitive to apply for a tenure-track position at NIH or elsewhere. A key component to the Assistant Clinical Investigator is a robust mentoring plan, which should be developed by the IC from the beginning, when selecting for the position.
A Staff Clinician is an NIH employee generally appointed to a time-limited, renewable position, or in extremely rare situations, to a permanent appointment (for retention or recruitment purposes) - individuals whose salary levels are at or above Executive Schedule IV (EX-4) are placed in indefinite appointments. A Staff Clinician is a physician or dentist who spends the majority of their time providing critical patient care services and is expected to provide clinical leadership and the highest level of clinical care. Under the supervision of a Senior Investigator, a Staff Clinician may also be the principal investigator on a clinical protocol.
A Staff Scientist is an NIH employee generally appointed to a time-limited, renewable position, or in extremely rare situations, to a permanent appointment (for retention or recruitment purposes). The individual holds a doctoral degree and is selected by an Institute or Center (IC) to support the long-term research of a Senior Investigator (with outstanding Board of Scientific Counselors (BSC) reviews). Staff Scientists do not receive independent resources, although they often work independently and have sophisticated skills and knowledge essential to the work of the laboratory. Staff Scientists should be capable of independently designing experiments, but do not have responsibilities for initiating new research programs.
A Senior Research Assistant is an NIH employee appointed under the General Schedule (GS-12 or GS-13). They serve in a scientific and technical support capacity and may design experiments with direction while also providing expert, highly skilled technical support, but are not expected to initiate original research programs.
A Research Assistant is an NIH employee appointed under the General Schedule (GS-11 and below) that serves in a scientific and technical support capacity.
An Adjunct Investigator is a scientist who works full- or part-time in an intramural setting, but whose primary career appointment is elsewhere (e.g., medical school, university faculty, or at NIH outside of an Institute and Center’s (IC) intramural program). They typically have more than eight years of post-doctoral experience, and may be hired into a Full-Time Equivalent Employment (FTE) position or alternatively as a Special Volunteer, Guest Researcher, or Research Collaborator, provided they fulfill all of the requirements for such appointment mechanism. This designation does not relate to the formal agreement between two IC Intramural Research Programs (IRPs) that are of mutual benefit to the Principal Investigator (PI) and the second IC.
A Scientist Emeritus is a special designation that can be given to distinguished IRP scientists who wish to retire, but still maintain an ongoing working relationship at NIH. The scientist should have been independent, recently retired (no more than 2 years ago) from the NIH IRP, and also retired from any biomedically-related employment. Recently retired Senior Investigators, Senior Scientists, and Senior Clinicians are eligible for this designation.
Fellows & Trainees
Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) Hiring Mechanism for Postdoctoral, Pre-Doctoral, Post-Baccalaureate, Technical, and Student IPDs
The Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) Fellowship Program is designed to provide advanced training and practical research experiences to investigators early in their professional research careers. IRTA Traineeships are established for the principal benefit of the participant and to provide opportunities for developmental training and practical research experience in a variety of disciplines related to biomedical research, medical library research, and related fields.
The Visiting Fellow (VF) program allows scientists from around the world the opportunity to work with senior NIH investigators on research areas of mutual interest. The program is designed to provide non-immigrant foreign participants opportunities for developmental training and practical research experience in a variety of disciplines related to biomedical research, medical library research, and related fields.
The ORISE Senior Fellow Program provides opportunities for experienced scientists who wish to make major changes in the direction of their research careers or who wish to broaden their scientific background by acquiring new research capabilities. These awards enable individuals with ten or more years of relevant research experience beyond the doctorate, who have progressed to an independent position, to take time from regular professional responsibilities for the purpose of receiving training to increase their scientific capabilities.
A Senior Clinical Fellow is an NIH employee who intends to pursue advanced clinical research training and is not quite ready for tenure-track progression. The Senior Clinical Fellowship is tailored to physician-scientists who have already completed 2-3 years of specialty or sub-specialty training and are, therefore, Board-Certified or Board-Eligible. Individuals must also qualify as a PGY-9 equivalent or higher, and must be competitively selected by an NIH clinical program (nationally advertised, formal application and review process).
A Clinical Fellow is an NIH employee who possesses an M.D., D.D.S., or D.O. (or equivalent clinical degree) and is on a time-limited, renewable appointment. The purpose of the Clinical Fellowship is to provide junior-level physicians, surgeons or dentists experience in biomedical research relevant to the Institute or Center’s (IC) program needs. To be eligible for the Clinical Fellowship, a candidate must: 1) be a graduate of an accredited medical, dental, or osteopathic school, and 2) have satisfactorily completed a prescribed period of post-graduate training approved by the Council on Medical Education and Hospitals, the American Medical Association, the American Osteopathic Association, or the American Dental Association, or have completed at least one year of residency in a program approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) or another nationally recognized accreditation organization; or 3) be accepted into an ACGME- accredited NIH-sponsored graduate medical education training program. The candidate must have demonstrated outstanding scholastic achievement and the ability to conduct successfully, with minimal supervision, pre-established programs in both clinical and laboratory research.
A Senior Research Fellow is an NIH employee who possesses a doctoral degree and is on a time-limited, renewable appointment. The position represents a scientific appointment for individuals who have gained considerable experience (i.e., more than 10 years) beyond postdoctoral training in positions outside of NIH. The designation is not intended for scientists who have gained their experience at NIH (i.e., Research Fellows who have completed eight years of service and are attempting to convert to a Senior Research Fellow appointment).
A Research Fellow is an NIH employee who possesses a doctoral degree and is on a time-limited, renewable appointment. The purpose of the Research Fellowship is to provide junior-level scientists experience in biomedical research while they provide a service relevant to the Institute or Center’s (IC) program needs. The Research Fellow will spend the entire fellowship in laboratory research, while supporting the performance of NIH intramural research.
Registered Students at NIH are offered a wide range of research training programs aimed at enhancing a student’s knowledge and understanding of biomedical research while contributing to the achievement of an individual's educational goals.
Alternative Staff Options
All contract workers hired to support scientific functions in the IRP must abide by the Policy for Use of Contract Workers to Support Scientific Functions in the IRP established on April 14, 2004. For questions regarding the policy, please contact the Office of Intramural Research (OIR).
A Guest Researcher is a scientist, engineer, and/or student who are permitted to engage in scientific studies and investigations using NIH Facilities. Under this appointment, these individuals further their own research by using equipment and resources that are otherwise unavailable to them. They provide no direct services to NIH. They may not have any patient contact. The authority may apply to non-NIH employees or non-NIH trainees who are sponsored and paid by an outside organization or are self-supported.
A Special Volunteer is an individual who provides research services, direct patient care, clerical support, technical assistance, or any other necessary services for NIH but is not financially compensated for their activities or actions. However, training for Special Volunteers may be paid by using Institute or Center (IC) funds.
On-Site Research Collaborators (RCs) include but are not limited to scientists, engineers, physicians and other scientific or health care providers who are engaged in research collaborations with the NIH Intramural Research Program (IRP) staff and are authorized by NIH to engage in scientific studies and investigations with IRP staff using NIH facilities. RCs further collaborative research projects with NIH by interacting with IRP investigators and utilizing equipment and other resources located within NIH IRP facilities that are otherwise unavailable to or not easily accessible by them.
The page was last updated on Friday, March 20, 2020 - 8:59am